Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

Rodney Reed’s death sentence was suspended. But researchers say other current cases raise similar doubt about the guilt of the accused.
The number of executions in the United States remains close to nearly a three-decade low. And yet the decline has not prevented what those who closely track the death penalty see as a disturbing trend: a significant number of cases in which prisoners are being put to death, or whose execution dates are near, despite questions about their guilt.
Rodney Reed, who came within days of execution in Texas before an appeals court suspended his death sentence on Friday, has been the most high-profile recent example, receiving support from Texas lawmakers of both parties and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, who urged a new examination of the evidence.
Mr. Reed has long maintained that he did not commit the 1996 murder for which he was convicted. And in recent months, new witnesses came forward pointing toward another possible suspect: the dead…

Kentucky switching to use of 1 drug in executions

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky is switching to a single drug to carry out inmate executions, becoming the latest state to drop a three-drug mixture for lethal injections.

New regulations filed Friday also give the state two drug options, either the anesthetic sodium thiopental or the barbiturate pentobarbital.

Kentucky joins at least seven other states that use one drug in lethal injections.

The change means the state could resume lethal injections later this year.

A public hearing on the execution proposal is scheduled for Sept. 25 in Frankfort and the new regulations are expected to take effect 30 days later.

Justice and Public Safety Cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin declined to comment on the regulations.

The new regulations also allow the state to use two drugs - the anti-seizure medication midazolam, better known as Versed, and hydromophone, an analgesic known commonly as Dilaudad - if the drugs used in a single-drug execution are not available seven days before a scheduled lethal injection. Prison officials will have to notify the inmate a week before the execution which method will be used.

Under the new rules, if the warden determines the inmate has not died from the first dose of the chemicals, successive injections may be ordered until the inmate is deceased. If the inmate isn't dead after 10 minutes, the warden may order an injection of 60 mg of hydromorphone until death occurs.

The regulations cover a variety of details about how an execution is carried out, ranging from when an inmate is moved from death row to the holding cells where the execution chamber is housed to who pronounces the inmate dead and how.

Source: Associated Press, July 20, 2012

Related article:
Jun 02, 2012
Kentucky to change execution method from 3 drugs. Kentucky officials signaled Thursday they will change how prisoners are executed, opening the door to using a single drug instead of the current 3-drug method that has ...

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